The 2021 Emmy Awards found itself in hot water on Sunday when not a single Black, Brown or Asian actor won an acting award — despite heading into the night with the most diverse nomination field in the show’s history, with 49 people of color up for acting and reality competition awards.
The only people of color who took home a statuette during the ceremony were RuPaul for Outstanding Competition Program and Michaela Coel for Outstanding Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie.
One of the biggest upsets of the night was the late Michael K. Williams, whose performance on Lovecraft Country was overlooked in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, as some predicted. Instead, the honor went to The Crown‘s Tobias Menzies for his portrayal of Prince Philip. Kerry Washington accepted Menzies’ award on his behalf.
Critics pointed out that this marks the second time in a year that a late Black actor lost to a British actor who was a no-show. During the 2021 Oscar Awards, Chadwick Boseman was favored to win Best Actor but lost to Anthony Hopkins, who had the Academy accept his honor on his behalf.
Another upset came during the Lead Actor in a Drama Series category, where four of the six nominees were actors of color — Sterling K. Brown, Regé-Jean Page, Jonathan Majors and Billy Porter. The Crown‘s Josh O’Connor collected the award.
Reaction to the night’s ceremony was fierce, with actress Yvette Nicole Brown tweeting during the show, “Every chance they had to make history in a meaningful way, they passed on it. Just said, ‘Naw, son.’ Mmkay. Got it.”
The controversy has renewed calls for the Emmy Awards to reevaluate its voting base, in addition to boycotts. The hashtag #EmmysSoWhite also began trending on Twitter.
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